Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Thinking about Mobile Devices for Field Services?

Boise Foothills
It is interesting listening to mobility vendors today.  Many began as recent start-ups and their entire mobility careers have been focused on supporting white collar workers using powerful smartphones integrated with ERPs.  However, mobility vendors that started a decade or more ago see the world in a different light.  They are more sensitive to the needs and requirements of the field service technician, the lineman and inspector.  These users are in the field, on remote job sites and subject to the weather and harsh working conditions surrounding them.  These workers appreciate the term, rugged, especially as it relates to mobile devices.

There is a big difference between working environments, which should be considered and influence the kinds of mobile devices selected for use by your mobile workforce.  When I am jogging outdoors it is very hard for me to stop in the bright sunlight of Boise, Idaho and read the screen on my iPhone.  It is very dim in bright sunlight.  What if my entire work was dependent on me using an iPhone app in these conditions?  It would be bad.  My eyes would suffer.  Different working environments absolutely need different kinds of screens, batteries, barcode scanners, RFID, keyboards and different levels of ruggedness.

Syclo, a mobility vendor with many utility and field services customers, has recently published a useful FAQ paper for organizations considering the merits of different kinds of devices.

Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile Industry Analyst, Consultant and SAP Mentor Volunteer
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.